Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Alma and John H. Johnston, 4 March 1885

Date: March 4, 1885

Whitman Archive ID: owu.00021

Source: The Bayley-Whitman Collection, Ohio Wesleyan University, Delaware, OH. Transcribed from digital images or a microfilm reproduction of the original item. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Notes for this letter were created by Whitman Archive staff and/or were derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller, 6 vols. (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), and supplemented or updated by Whitman Archive staff.

Contributors to digital file: Stefan Schöberlein and Kyle Barton

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328 Mickle Street
Camden New Jersey1
March 4 '85

My dear friends2

Your letter comforts & touches me deeply, & I am not sure but it w'd be a good arrangement not only for me, but all 'round—But for the present I shall keep on here—Since you was here, Alma, I have had a friend move in, Mrs. Davis, strong & hearty & good natured, a widow, young enough, furnishes me my meals, & takes good care3—I am feeling quite well for me as I write this. —Soon as you get this write me how John is getting along—Last Saturday's Critic has a piece about my home which may interest you4—I have been under the weather myself for nearly a fortnight, but am now all right—I shall never forget your kindness & generosity to me—I am in good spirits as I finish this, feeling better to-day than for some time past—Love to Al5 and May & all

Walt Whitman

John H. Johnston (1837–1919) was a New York jeweler and close friend of Whitman. Johnston was also a friend of Joaquin Miller (Horace Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden, Tuesday, August 14, 1888). Whitman visited the Johnstons for the first time early in 1877. In 1888 he observed to Horace Traubel: "I count [Johnston] as in our inner circle, among the chosen few" (Horace Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden, Wednesday, October 3, 1888). See also Johnston's letter about Whitman, printed in Charles N. Elliot, Walt Whitman as Man, Poet and Friend (Boston: Richard G. Badger, 1915), 149–174. For more on Johnston, see Susan L. Roberson, "Johnston, John H. (1837–1919) and Alma Calder," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998).

Alma Calder Johnston was an author and the second wife of John H. Johnston. Her family owned a home and property in Equinunk, Pennsylvania. For more on the Johnstons, see Susan L. Roberson, "Johnston, John H. (1837–1919) and Alma Calder" (Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998).


1. This letter is addressed: Mrs: Alma Johnston | 305 East 17th Street | New York City. It is postmarked: Camden, N.J. | (?). [back]

2. Mrs. Johnston visited Whitman on February 9 (Whitman's Commonplace Book). [back]

3. See the letter from Walt Whitman to William D. O'Connor of January 26, 1885[back]

4. "Walt Whitman in Camden." [back]

5. Mr. Johnston's son, Albert. [back]


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